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Consumer Reports Health: Americans With Heartburn Paying Too Much Green For Nexium's 'Purple Pill'
Date:10/29/2009

This holiday season, settle your stomach, relieve your wallet

YONKERS, N.Y., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Just in time for the holidays, when many of us may suffer from occasional heartburn, a new Best Buy Drugs report from Consumer Reports Health finds that you probably don't need an expensive drug like Nexium, the "purple pill," for relief.

The new report uses comparative effectiveness research to identify "Best Buys" based on safety, effectiveness, and price for Proton Pump Inhibitors, a class of drugs to treat heartburn and stomach acid reflux. The report found that no one drug works better than another and that all are relatively safe. However, some PPIs are far more expensive than others.

Last year, U.S. consumers and their insurance companies spent $4.8 billion on Nexium, one of six PPIs currently available, making "the purple pill" the second highest-selling drug in 2008, behind Lipitor. It's no wonder: a month's supply of Nexium has a retail price tag of up to $240 a month, compared to just $24 a month for an over-the-counter PPI.

"For most consumers, over-the-counter, generic drugs will treat their frequent heartburn and acid reflux just as well as more expensive prescription drugs, and save them money too," said Lisa Gill, editor, prescription drugs, Consumer Reports Health. "We think doctors have been too quick to prescribe expensive, prescription medications when a generic or an over-the-counter would work just as well."

The first and best bet to settle your stomach is to try an inexpensive, over-the-counter antacid (such as Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, Tums, or their generic versions) or an H2 blocker (Pepcid AC, Zantac 150, or their generic versions). People who suffer from heartburn twice a week or more for weeks or months on end may have GERD, short for gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition that makes you prone to acid reflux. Those people
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SOURCE Consumers Union
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